Building on renewables


The beautifully-built Ocean Explorer 72 catamaran has the ability to run silently on electric propulsion recharged from renewables. Part of the secret is the composite structure using PRO-SET epoxy, which makes the yacht light, strong and easily driven.

Built in Finland by Ocean Quality Systems (OQS) Ltd, the Ocean Explorer catamaran range has been designed by the celebrated naval architect German Frers as a go-anywhere cruising yacht. OQS is an amalgamation of several long established marine companies and the Ocean Explorer brand was started in 2010 to harness advanced infusion techniques. These would be used for building long-range luxury multihulls, with PRO-SET epoxy products specified from the outset.

These boats are towards the top end of the size range for a blue water cruising family and offer a huge amount of internal volume. The largest yacht currently under construction is a 72-footer but the company has plans for a 78-footer as well. The customer that orders this latest design will find themselves with more room than a significantly larger monohull.

“We have recently completed two 60-footers (OE60) and we have one 60- (OE60) and one 72-footer (OE72) in build,” explained CEO Tomas Halmesmaki. “The concept is semi-custom, so an owner can have any layout they like within the confines of the structural bulkheads. We use the infusion process throughout, as it offers a very strong structure but without too much weight. The reinforcements are a mix of carbon and glass and on our largest yachts the saloon structures are made from titanium. These will be both bolted and bonded to the deck using PRO-SET adhesives.”

Run silent – run cheap

Modern yachts are packed with electrical systems to make them a home-from- home, so many owners are now exploring how to run their boats off a large battery bank via inverters. These batteries are recharged in a number of ways, typically main engine alternators, wind turbines and solar panels but also hydro-generators when sailing. However, large yachts usually have a diesel generator aboard as well, which gets varying amounts of use.

Generators are seen as both a blessing and a curse, as the peace of an idyllic anchorage can be ruined for the crew, and for any neighbours, if boats have to run them to maintain power hungry appliances. These are typically heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems (HVAC) and fridge freezers. Modern gensets have been engineered to be incredibly quiet with low emissions but they still detract from the tranquility of the seascape. This is where Ocean Explorer has been able to attract clients who value their peace afloat and who also want to minimise their environmental impact.

The vast deck area of a catamaran lends itself to sunbathing not only by the crew but also by a large array of solar panels. A standard spread of 16mon the OE60 (can be expanded) can provide all of the needs of the critical ‘hotel loads’, including intelligent use of HVAC. For example, the latest aircon systems, notably those by major manufacturer Dometic, have evolved to use ‘power sipping’ at night to run at just 10% of their usual daytime power requirements.

The first of the OE72s will take this renewable concept a stage further by having a drive system that is entirely electric, an option requested by the client. A pair of relatively small and very quiet generators will be used to supplement a significant array of renewables and act as range extenders where necessary.

“The beauty of this system is that there is no need to run the generators at anchor,” Tomas said. “The bank can be deep-cycled without damage and is quickly recharged for minimal run time from the gensets. This gives the owners the reassurance of dependable power when needed but plenty of capacity for living and motoring in peace, possibly for several days at a time.”

The whole Ocean Explorer range has been built to reflect the philosophy of low environmental impact. 

“Lack of fuel is not critical for the voyage and life on board,” Tomas concluded. “The yacht is designed to minimise emissions into the air and the oceans. Even the water discharges have the option to be cleaned by a sewerage treatment system before being pumped overboard. That is our mission – a high quality product that allows our customers to explore the world in a safe, comfortable and environmentally-friendly way.”

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